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April 21, 2023

At Dorney Park this summer, anyone younger than 16 will need to be accompanied by an adult

The Allentown amusement park cites increasing incidents of 'unruly behavior' the last two years. It's the latest business or municipality to put restrictions on teens

Recreation Amusement Parks
Dorney Park Chaperones StreetView/Google Maps

Dorney Park will require chaperones for guests 15 and younger when the amusement park opens on May 12, 2023. The rule takes effect daily at 4 p.m. Chaperones must be at least 21, and one chaperone can supervise groups of as many as 10 teens.

When Dorney Park opens for the 2023 season next month, there will be a new rule requiring anyone 15 or younger to be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 21 years old. 

Officials at the Allentown amusement park on Friday said the policy stems from a number of incidents that occurred in recent years. 

"Over the past two years, there have been increasing incidents of unruly and inappropriate behavior across our industry and at other major entertainment venues," a post on Dorney Park's Facebook page reads. "We are committed to keeping Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom a place where families and friends come together to enjoy a one-of-a-kind park full of fun experiences and immersive entertainment."

The chaperone policy takes effect May 7, which is before Dorney Park's official opening day on Friday, May 12. 

The rule affects guests at the amusement park later than 4 p.m. After that time, anyone who's not yet 16 years old must be chaperoned by someone who is at least 21. Chaperones will have to prove their ages at Dorney Park's entrance gate by showing government-issued, photo IDs.

Dorney Park opens between 10-11 a.m. and closes as late as 11 p.m., depending on the day of the week and the time of the year. Its water park, Wildwater Kingdom, opens typically at 11 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m.

The chaperone requirement is not in effect before 4 p.m. 

One chaperone may accompany as many as 10 teens at time, and chaperones must remain inside the park the whole time their group is there and be reachable by phone. 

Anyone 15 or younger caught inside Dorney Park without a chaperone will be kicked off the property.

Dorney Park has long been a recreation destination in the region with a history that dates back to 1860. Among its roller coasters, the century-old Thunderhawk was voted a roller coaster landmark by the American Coaster Enthusiasts. Dorney Park also hosts popular special events, like its Fourth of July and Halloween celebrations. 

Other amusement parks in the region — including Hersheypark, Knoebels and New Jersey's Six Flags Great Adventure — do not outline policies requiring juveniles to be accompanied by adults on their websites. Two years ago, Kennywood, an amusement park near Pittsburgh, began requiring chaperones for guests younger than 18 after 4 p.m. Knott's Berry Farm, in southern California, did the same last year after a series of fights among teenagers. 

Earlier in April in Philadelphia, after more than 300 teens caused disturbances in Center City, the Fashion District mall on East Market Street created a policy prohibiting unsupervised teens from entering after 2 p.m.

In February, a Chick-fil-A in Royersford, Montgomery County, banned children younger 16 from its restaurant unless accompanied by adult, citing behavior problems as the motivation for its policy. 

"Parents, we are not blaming you," the Chick-fil-A's managers wrote on Facebook at the time. "Children and teens are learning to navigate the world free from supervision and often push the boundaries. We simply can't let them push those boundaries anymore at our restaurant."

And at the Jersey Shore in preparation for the summer, leaders in Ocean City passed an ordinance that allows police to detain juveniles who cause problems until their parents come pick them up at the police station. The city council in Sea Isle City has enacted a curfew and will restrict the use of backpacks this summer. Both shore towns say there have been problems with large groups of teens the last couple years.

Dorney Park's chaperone policy is intended to ensure the safety of its guests and employees. 

"We believe these changes will help ensure that Dorney Park continues to have a positive atmosphere where generations of families and friends can gather for a day of safe fun and good food," officials say. "Millions of guests have counted on us for exactly that, and we will continue to deliver on that promise for generations to come."